One of the things I love the most about adventure racing is that no two races are the same.
The terrain changes, the navigation changes, and most importantly, our bodies and minds may change from one race to the next.
For me, on day three of the AR World Championship race across Wyoming, my body made a sudden shift.
Seemingly out of the blue, my lungs started accumulating fluid, which coagulated in the bottom of my lungs. All of a sudden, when my heart rate elevated, I just couldn’t breathe.
At first, I was angry. We had just gotten on our bikes, and I LOVE my bike, and you’re telling me I can’t have oxygen? Then, I had a minor panic attack, thinking “how on Earth am I going to manage this?!?”
We still had a couple hundred miles to go, and a couple hundred miles was going to take quite a few thousand breaths…especially with about 15,000-20,000 feet yet to climb. Then, I pedaled, and pushed, and Dan towed me up steep sections while Stephen pushed my bike, and we knocked off mile after mile.
Of course, during this struggle, it felt like every team that was once behind us passed like we were standing still.
But after the panic wore off, and we settled into what I thought would be the new normal, we rode into the transition area to rappel and do some caving.
Then, after a coughing fit of epic proportions which resulted in some of my most impressive lung butter, the breathing problem went away as suddenly as it had appeared. For various reasons, I think it was an infection, but I suppose we’ll never know.
The only thing that I know for certain is that no two races are ever the same, and even when we suffer we know that each experience is makes us stronger.